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Unlocking potential for greatness.

Mlungisi Mncwango

BSc. Actuarial Science & Fin. Maths. (year 3), University of Pretoria

Growing up under the care of a large but supportive family, I was identified as a member of the lower-class. Nevertheless, it was under the loving care of my mother that I found strength and determination to pursue my dreams. In a household of sixteen, including myself, my mother and aunt worked as cashiers, while my three uncles had varying employment statuses. One worked as a taxi driver while others were job seekers.

Some of my siblings were still in high school, while two were employed as petrol attendants, leaving the rest unemployed. Amid these circumstances, I was the fourth child, aspiring to reach greater heights through education. I am currently pursuing a BSc in Actuarial and Financial Mathematics at the esteemed University of Pretoria.

1. My life in High School

My educational journey began at Mathangetshitshi Secondary School, classified as a quintile 2 school, where I eventually matriculated in 2017.

It was a defining moment for me as I became the first student at the school to achieve level 7 in Physical Science, Mathematics, Electrical Technology, and Engineering Graphics and Design (EGD). My academic performance throughout all grades consistently placed me among the best learners, and my leadership potential glowed as I became a member of the Representative Council of Learners (RCL) in Grades 9 and 10. After completing matric, I was offered a unique opportunity by my principal, Mr. Madlopha, to assist with teaching Mathematics and Physical Science to Grade 12 learners, alongside Mr. Nkosi and Miss Nzuza. Together, we managed to achieve notable improvements, with a 44% increase in Mathematics results and a 68% increase in Physical Science results from the previous year.

2. Discovering Actuarial Science

It was during my time in high school that I stumbled upon an article in Mlokothwa High School’s magazine about Actuarial Science. Intrigued, I delved deeper into the subject and discovered its strong mathematical foundation, which resonated with me as mathematics had always been one of my strengths since I was announced as the top mathematics student at Prince Layunkona Primary School back in Grade 5.

My dreams of studying Actuarial Science came to fruition when I was accepted into the prestigious University of Pretoria in 2020. The pursuit of this field was a natural choice for me, as my love for mathematics had bloomed from an early age.

My love for mathematics ignited in Grade 5, sparked by the recognition I received from Mr. Nxumalo, who announced me as the top maths student. From that moment, I knew that mathematics was not just a subject but a passion that would guide my future pursuits.

3. SAADP’s role in my actuarial journey

The South African Actuarial Development Programme (SAADP) became an essential pillar of support on my academic journey. The programme’s financial aid provided me with the means to pursue my studies without the burden of financial constraints. Beyond monetary assistance, SAADP offered psychological support, recognizing the challenges students face in their pursuit of higher education. The sense of family bond cultivated among the scholars under SAADP strengthened me, knowing that I was not alone on this journey.

4. Dealing with failure

While studying Actuarial Science, I encountered challenges, including failing some modules. However, these setbacks did not deter me; instead, they served as opportunities for learning and growth. I embraced the notion that failure is a steppingstone to success, and I persevered with renewed determination to overcome these obstacles.

5. Advice for aspirant black Actuaries

To any prospective students aspiring to embark on the path of Actuarial Science, I wholeheartedly recommend the South African Actuarial Development Programme. This programme goes beyond providing financial assistance; it fosters a supportive and understanding environment that recognizes the unique challenges faced by students. SAADP nurtures a sense of family among its scholars, inspiring each one to persevere and succeed.

6. Conclusion

My journey from a lower-class extended family to pursuing Actuarial Science at the University of Pretoria has been a remarkable one. It was fuelled by the love and care of my mother, the support of my family members, and the guidance from SAADP. Through my academic achievements and determination, I have sought to transcend societal barriers and embrace the opportunities education can offer. As I continue this path, I remain grateful for the support that has transformed my life and the chance to pursue my dreams with the assurance that I am not alone in this journey.

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